OTT & Digital

Nitro Circus, SLS and Superjacket Productions merge to create Thrill One

Boston Celtics owner invests in ‘world’s largest’ action sports company.

by Sam Carp

Nitro Circus, SLS and Superjacket Productions merge to create Thrill One

Global merchant bank the Raine Group and Causeway Media Partners, the growth stage venture capital firm led by Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, have combined action sports touring group Nitro Circus, the Street League Skateboarding (SLS) series and production house Superjacket Productions to create Thrill One Sports & Entertainment.

According to an official release, Thrill One immediately becomes ‘the world’s largest independent action sports operator and media company’, and plans to launch additional properties and pursue further strategic acquisitions.

The new venture, which also has backing from commercial finance firm MidCap Financial, will be headed up by Joe Carr, formerly of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and World Surf League (WSL), who will serve as Thrill One’s chief executive.

Thrill One, which claims to have 40 million followers across its brand pages and channels, has more than 30 events scheduled for 2020 and will produce over 100 hours of live sports, along with more than 175 episodes of original programming.

According to Bloomberg, the venture is expected to generate more than US$100 million in its first year.

The move comes with action sports set to gain more global exposure through the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which will feature skateboarding and surfing for the first time, as well as BMX freestyle.

“This groundbreaking alliance combines three prized brands into a single entity, transforming what has historically been a fragmented landscape into the biggest platform in action sports,” said Carr, who is the second senior executive to leave the WSL this month following the departure of chief executive Sophie Goldschmidt.

Carr added: “Action sports are enjoying a renaissance right now with Olympic inclusion in 2020, the democratisation of media and the worldwide fanbase at an all-time high. I look forward to working with our athletes and talented management team to drive organic growth in our existing businesses while also identifying potential M&A opportunities and complimentary IP.”

Co-founded in 2003 by stunt performer Travis Pastrana, Nitro Circus has grown to become a leading action sports media company built around a portfolio of events including the Nitro World Games, Nitro Rallycross and Nitro Circus Live.

“At Nitro Circus, we have the amazing opportunity to work with the best athletes, content creators and technical geniuses in the business, reaching fans worldwide,” Pastrana said. “Now, by teaming up with SLS and Superjacket to create this game-changing team, we can pull our resources together with the unified goal of growing the fun and progression of action sports on a global level.”

SLS, meanwhile, features 25 professional street skateboarders competing in events in cities such as London, Los Angeles and Sao Paulo. The series now serves as the primary partner to global governing body World Skate’s Olympic qualification events for Tokyo 2020.

“Capturing mind-blowing content is essential to everything we do,” added Rob Dyrdek chief executive of Dyrdek Machine, which founded SLS and Superjacket. “Whether it’s the elite competition of SLS or the outrageous antics of ‘Ridiculousness,’ audiences of all ages are drawn to it. Now, by joining forces with this influential group of athletes, brands and investors, Joe and team are set to take Thrill One to a whole new level.”

For the Raine Group, the company’s investment in Thrill One adds to a portfolio that includes daily fantasy and sports betting operator DraftKings and the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL).

Causeway, meanwhile, has ties to the Formula E all-electric racing series, US-based over-the-top (OTT) sports network FloSports and Zwift, the online training platform for cyclists and runners.